ROTTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands and Romania will put behind identical perfect starts to their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign and vie for the top group D spot when they clash in Bucharest on Tuesday.
Both the sides have won their first three qualifying matches to pocket nine points but the Dutch side top the group on goal average.
They beat Andorra 3-0 at home on Friday for their 11th straight World Cup qualifying win and will welcome Robin van Persie in the central striking role on Tuesday but are not without worries.
The winger’s position remains a concern for coach Louis van Gaal as Arjen Robben is out with a hamstring problem while Ruben Schaken, who scored on debut against Andorra, sustained a knee injury which forced him to leave the Dutch training camp.
It prompted coach Louis van Gaal to recall Eljero Elia, who has been out of the squad since the Euro 2012 qualifier against Sweden in October last year.
Van Gaal has added 21-year old midfielder Jordy Clasie as well to his squad but appeared worried about Romania’s smooth run.
“I would have signed for this start with three wins but I am a bit disappointed about the result of the Turkey-Romania match,” Van Gaal told reporters.
“I hoped for a draw and now after Romania’s win they are in a flow which will make it tougher for us.”
Van Gaal is likely to ring several changes in the squad.
“My confidence in players is reduced to one match and then I will review my team and see what is required for the next match,” he said.
His Romanian counterpart Victor Piturca Has asked his players to maintain the momentum they earned after beating Estonia, Andorra and Turkey without conceding a goal.
“As I said I want six points from matches against Turkey and Netherlands,” said Piturca. “We’re outstanding in Turkey and now we must achieve the desired result against the Dutch.”
That, however, would not be easy after their “exhausting” 1-0 win in Turkey on Friday.
Gheorghe Grozav scored the only goal against Turkey but suffered a groin injury and was substituted early in the second half.
Alexandru Chipciu is likely to replace him and play on the left in midfield with Gabriel Torje on the right flank.
Bogdan Stancu, who is nursing a muscle problem, is another doubtful starter and will probably be replaced by Razvan Cocis, playing behind striker Ciprian Marica in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Romanian Football Federation expect a full house at the 55,600-cappacity National Arena.
Romania: 12-Ciprian Tatarusanu; 4-Gabriel Tamas, 15-Dorin Goian, 6-Vlad Chiriches, 3-Razvan Rat, 5-Alexandru Bourceanu, 18-Doru Pintilii, 11-Gabriel Torje, 16-Razvan Cocis, 7-Alexandru Chipciu, 9-Ciprian Marica.
Netherlands: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 2-Daryl Janmaat, 3-John Heitinga, 4-Ron Vlaar; 5-Bruno Martins Indi; 6-Jordy Clasie, 10-Rafael van der Vaart; 8-Kevin Strootman; 7-Dirk Kuyt, 9-Robin van Persie, 11-Jeremain Lens.
Additional reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Amlan Chakraborty